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Netflix looks for icebreaker, aggressively promotes House of Cards Season 5 only for Indian audience

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Netflix looks for icebreaker, aggressively promotes House of Cards Season 5 only for Indian audience

Frank and Claire are back, this time with terror and a widespread marketing campaign. House of Cards, Netflix’s first ever original drama series has returned for a fifth season and the excitement is palpable in the marketing campaign the OTT platform is running globally and in India.

Even though the Indian market holds great potential for Netflix, it has yet to taste success here. The steep pricing, base package starting at Rs 500 per month and content strategy (limited native content) are the major roadblocks in the way of Netflix becoming the favoured OTT platform in India. Given these roadblocks, Netflix has been stepping up its marketing efforts to get more Indian viewers to ‘Netflix and chill’.




Platform Active Subscribers (mn) Minutes spent on the platform (mn)
Hotstar 63.0 11,300
Voot 13.2 2,800
Amazon Video 9.5 NA
Sony LIV 4.6 423
Netflix 4.2 495
OZEE TV 2.4 679
Data as of January 2017
Source: KPMG India - FICCI Media Report 2017

With the season premiere of one of the most awaited shows of the year, Netflix has upped its game in India, creating a marketing campaign specifically tailored to its House of Cards audience here. The online streaming platform has created three digital ads for the show exclusively for its Indian audience and has also been aggressively promoting the show via outdoor promotions.

Two weeks before the release of the show, Netflix India released a digital video ad for the show featuring actor Alok Nath and stand-up comedian Biswa Kalyan Rath. In the course of the 5 minute long ad, Rath brings Nath up to speed on all the four seasons of House of Cards and finally hands Nath a tablet with all the episodes downloaded on it.

Following this ad that received some flak from those who were planning to watch the show because of all the spoilers it contained, Netflix India hit back with another ad, this time without spoilers. Boman Irani walks viewers through the head of Frank Underwood in this ad and concludes with: “The road to power is paved with hypocrisy and casualties. Never Regret. Power is your fortress, but one misstep and it is a House of Cards.”

In the most recent ad shared on social media, stand-up comedian Karan Talwar auditions actor Varun Thakur presumably for a role in the next season of the show. Thakur plays Vicky, his on-screen alter-ego who is a struggling actor. Vicky knows nothing about House of Cards and puts his ignorance of the series on display when he arrives for the audition. This leaves Talwar, who plays the casting director, to hand Vicky a smartphone with all five seasons of House of Cards on it.

Netflix has not only been actively promoting the show on digital platforms, it has also made a splash across Mumbai with outdoor hoardings. The outdoor campaign has been carried out by Netflix India’s OOH agency – Kinetic Worldwide. In addition, Netflix has also tried to relate Indian scenarios to the American drama.

In the past, Netflix has featured shows like Narcos and Orange is the New Black as part of its marketing campaigns in India, but this is the first time the online streaming giant has focussed an entire campaign on just one show.

Netflix is also aggressively promoting its latest release War Machine starring Brad Pitt, both online and offline. Brad Pitt visited Mumbai to promote the film and attended a special screening when he met with Shah Rukh Khan whose Raees is now streaming on Netflix.


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